Albania Condemns Call for Blockade of Serbia

Posted January 12th, 2012 at 5:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Albania's foreign ministry has condemned calls by Kosovo hardliners for Albania to block its border with Serbia.

In a statement Thursday, Albania's foreign ministry said the proposed blockade is “extreme” and would hurt efforts to build a democratic and multi-ethnic state in Kosovo.

Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci criticized the plan to blockade two border crossings a day earlier, calling it immoral and unacceptable.

“They (Self-Determination) refused the uniform of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and now they want to go to (border-crossings) Dheu I Bardhe or Merdare; they refused to wear the KLA uniform and now they are ready to use violence against the uniform of the police and the state of Kosovo. This is unacceptable, immoral and unacceptable for the people of Kosovo and all our international friends.''

Leaders of the Kosovo Self-Determination Party have been urging Albania to block imports of Serb products this weekend. The call comes as a reaction to roadblocks set up by ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, supported by Belgrade.

The ethnic Serbs refuse to recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence and have been blocking the border area since July, when Kosovo's ethnic Albanian government tried to take control of the areas under de-facto Serb rule.

Albin Kurti, leader of the so-called “Self-Determination” movement planning this weekend's blockade, said his group is acting to enforce a recent vote by the Kosovar parliament to introduce a trade ban with Serbia, which the government says is not binding.

“Serbia has a criminal past and a criminal present in Kosovo, but also has anti-Kosovar and anti-Albanian plans. We consider that it is very important to block Serbia's intrusion into Kosovo in compliance with the decision of the parliament of Kosovo.''

The ongoing tensions between Belgrade and Kosovo cost Serbia a chance at European Union membership last week. EU leaders delayed any decision on granting Serbia the status of membership candidate until March, citing the dispute.